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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#111 MATCHBOX vs. JOAL – TAYLOR JUMBO CRANE/ CANGURO (1961/ Around 1968)

Pretending to continue with the last article, I want to present this time the second model of the “200” series by Joal, named: “Camión Grúa Taylor / Canguro” (Nr. 201), which is a copy of the Matchbox King Size nr.14 “Taylor Jumbo Crane” from 1961. The difference with the previous model, is that, this time, I can compare them, because I own both.

If you pay attention you won’t be able to find any big differences between the cast of both models, the biggest one is the central park of the vehicle (between the wheels) is different. You might argue that the part with the axis of the crane-arm is red instead of yellow, but this is only one of the two available versions by Matchbox. (the other one is completely yellow, and seems to be the first release, being the one in the pictures the second). The hook is the only part whose cast hasn’t been copied, they’re clearly different.

Note that this toy is more complex than the Dumper Truck: it already has windshields, and the crane has several points of articulation.

Another interesting point to compare is the chassis. They’re different colours, but the share the same casts. Joal only wrote its name, while Matchbox also included the name and number of the model, plus the typical “made in England”.

Catalogue image with Matchbox's Jumbo Crane (1967)

Another catalogue image with Matchbox's Jumbo Crane (1969)

Now that I have presented the first two public works machines made by Joal, I'd like to remember that Joal is a company that is still working. Nowadays they do not produce toys anymore, but collectable scale trucks, buses, machinery and more. It is interesting, that they specialized in this particular scale miniatures, leaving cars aside. The concurrence in that field was (and is) huge, but in this other field, they're probably among the best in the world. A visit to its webpage is worth:

  • Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
  • Year: 1961/ 1971
  • Company: Matchbox (Great Britain) / Joal (Spain)
  • Size: 13 cm

Friday, January 27, 2012

#110 JOAL – LEYLAND DUMPER (Nr. 200) (Around 1968 and 1974)

I have already published one article with a Joal toy, comparing one of their models with a very similar one made by Corgi. This time, I can’t compare the model with its Matchbox equivalent, because I don’t own it, but if you have, you can compare it at home.

Joal Catalogue from 1971. Pic courtesy of Juan Pedro (El Kiosko de Akela)

This model I am talking about also appears in the catalogue image above these lines, it is the Leyland Dumper, and is the first model produced by Joal in its “200” series. This series comprised all kinds of trucks, public works and agricultural vehicles, while the “100” series comprised cars or even cars with trailers. Joal started it production in 1968, so this truck was probably built exactly that year. Note that I have photographed two trucks. The orange one seems to be a reedition of the truck made from 1974 to 1980, while the yellow one is the original.

The older models were sold in cardboard boxes. With the years, those boxes got a small window to show the toy inside of the box, and later, a small card at the back with hanger hole. The models of the 100 series passed directly from cardboard box to jewel case, exception made of the bigger gift sets, or cars with trailers, in which a windowed box with card at the back was used.

The cast is very simple, it doesn't have many details. The most notable is probably the steering wheel, whose transmission bar can be seen from the outside, and the bumpers. The dump box is practicable, and it doesn't have any windshield or plastic part than the tyres.

In this last picture it can be seen that the orange version has some peg in the lower part of the dump. This is probably to insert a screw that fixes the truck to a box, but I'm not sure at all.

Maybe you have already recognised the cast: it is a copy of Matchbox King Size nr.5 “Foden Tipper Truck” from 1961. If I ever get to buy one them, I’ll expand this article with pictures comparing both models.

Sorry for the quality of the pictures, if you open them in a new window, and zoom on them, some graining can be seen.

• Name: LEYLAND DUMPER (Nr. 200)
• Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
• Year: Around 1968/ 1974
• Company: Joal (Spain)
• Size: 11 cm

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


George Lucas is often mentioned as the master or even the inventor of merchandise. He did not invented it, because promotional or licensed toys from movies existed since many years ago. George Lucas took this form of promotion to a higher level, and ever since, the most popular blockbusters go with their own toy line.

In 1977 the film “Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope” was filmed and premiered. In the contract offered by the 20th Century Fox, George Lucas renounced to a part of his salary in exchange for the license rights of products related to Star Wars. Hollywood’s studios accepted without objections. To date, toys represented only a very small amount of the incomes produced by one movie, so it would have been the right decision if it hasn’t been for the huge phenomenon that Star Wars resulted to be. George Lucas was so convinced of his work, that he risked changing the contract, and made a great profit of it.

Charles Lippincott was crucial in this whole story. He was in 1977 the marketing manager of Lucasfilm Ltd. and received from Lucas the order to search for companies interested in adquiring licenses for related products to the film they were preparing. Mr. Lippincott went to the American International Toy Fair in New York with just a few drawings and outlines made by Ralph McQuarrie. The most important toy companies of the time refused the idea of producing any toys (they must have regretted this decision for many years), but Kenner accepted. Kenner was not a very big company at the time, what surely made the decision easier for them… it was worth taking the risk of making toys based on a very promising movie that millions of children would watch.

The movie was premiered the 25th May 1977, becoming an instant success. Kenner had to build the line starting from scratch. For a toymaker like Kenner, it seemed almost impossible to have the first figures ready for the Christmas campaign. What they did was to sell a coupon for the first 4 figures that would be available a few months later. This pack of pre-ordered figures is known as the “Early Bird”, but it will be treated sometime in a future entry. I don’t own the figures, and I don’t think I’ll ever own them, but the “normal” figures, for example, this Chewbacca here.

Chewbacca and the Imperial Stormtrooper were part of the first series (which comprised 12 figures) and was launched in 1978. Both characters are well known from the movies, so I won’t write anything about them.

Something in common between this two figures, is that they do not have any point of articulation in the neck, but only arms and legs (4 PoAs). Chewbacca was originally sold with a rifle like the one in the pictures, while the Stormtrooper came with a blaster gun. Due to the “armybuilders”, the Stortrooper is a figure that is a bit more expensive than the other figures in the same wave. As you can see in the pictures I own two of them.

Both weapons are repro, since the original weapons made by Kenner are now scarce and they are sold for a very high amount of money.

Another interesting fact of Kenner’s Star Wars figures is that many variants of each figure exist. This is probably because the figures were re-released several times during the lifespan of the collection, and some releases may differ in the colours applied, or in the accessories included, and so on. The Early Bird Chewbacca for example, included the rifle in a greenish tone of plastic, and there’s also a version in which the poach is painted in a shinier brown. I do not own any of these variants, but the “green-limbed Chewbacca” that is also presented here.

As you can see, the green limbs Chewbacca have arms and legs in another colour than the original one. Although it is recognised as a variant, many people think (I do too), that this is only a decolouration of the limbs, which are made in another plastic compound than the original figure or the rest of the body.

  • Toy Line: Star Wars
  • Year: 1977
  • Company: Kenner (U.S.A.)
  • Size of the figures: 11 cms or 3,75’’

Sunday, January 22, 2012

#108 MIRA – MERCEDES 450 SEL (R.136) (Around 1978)

This is the first article I write about the Spanish toymaker Mira, and therefore I’d like to start telling the history of this company. But before that, and for people who don’t read the article right to the end, I’d like to warn vintage toy collectors (those interested in Spanish toys from the 70s), that during the last months of 2011 some old warehouse or toyshop has been found and an unusual number of toys from the late 70s are now looking for new owners. If you see some toy listed as “70s” in ebay, todocoleccion, and so on, it might be a great chance to get it. Just make sure you compare prices first. I profited from this find, and bought many models that I’ll be showing in the next months. This car is not exactly one of them, but I found similar ones.

The history of Mira starts (like these from Guisval, Payva, Gozán,…) when some workers from the Payá toy factory decide to start their own company. This time, it was 1967 when Francisco Mira Brotons, José Antonio Mira Guillem and some other associates founded “Juguetes Carrusel” in Ibi. This small company didn’t start very well, since only one year after its foundation, all associates left the company, and only the above mentioned members remained.

Those were probably hard years, in which the company survived making buckles for shoes and belts in Zamak. Four years later, in 1972, the company would restart making toys, and came to the Toy Fair in Valencia to try to find new associates. This was the first time that the new trademark Mira was used. The good fortune they hadn’t found at first, appeared this time: Carlos Payá became associate of this new company, and brought the money for the acquisition of new machines. Further on, the Japanese company Asahi placed an important order that would ensure the life and growth of the company for the next years.

In the year 1975, the first scale trucks were produced, and only one year later, in their new facilities, they started with other miniatures, mostly scale cars, and trucks, but also boats and motorbikes.

This 1:55 series was a great success, like the similar series made by the concurrent companies, it could be bought both in toy stores and press kiosk, groceries, confectioners… and the price was so low, it could be afforded by each parent. Children didn’t have to wait for special occasions to receive one of those.

In the 80s, the company built many other models in several scales ranging from 1:64 to 1:24, many of them were exported to the USA, Japan and other European countries, but by the end of the decade, hard times came, and like other companies, they had to survive reducing costs and producing very low quality toys. They survived the eighties and even the nineties, but the company had to close down around 2002. Their remaining casts were bought by Solido.

Talking about casts, I have to mention that Mira probably had the best casts in this scale among all the Spanish manufacturers. Despite its size, there are many details to see, like the emblem of the car, the handles of the door, the bumpers, headlights, and so on, far away from other models made at the time by Guisval or Guiloy.

As usual, the model was available in several colours and decorations. These are the two I currently own (green and blue) I also had a blue one with “police” stickers, but one of the axles broke, and it’s impossible to repair. Pay attention to the picture showing the chassis of the car, and note that the axes are part of that metal plate. When some of these cars was stepped on, it broke 100% of the times. The chassis however is beautifully decorated.

Information for this article was found in our friend website:

  • Name: MERCEDES 450 SEL (R. 136)
  • Scale: 1:64 (approx.)
  • Year: Around 1978
  • Company: Mira (Spain)
  • Size: 7 cm

Thursday, January 19, 2012


This was the second vintage model made by Scalextric, and the last one by Exin. This same year, the company closed, and the brand Scalextric was sold to the American toymaker Tyco.
The Mercedes 250 SL is also a very important car in the history of Scalextric Spain. It was the second model ever produced (after the Seat 600) with the reference C-32 and it was made in two different versions: in 1967 the hardtop version in white, light brown, black, burgundy red and green (each of them with black, white or burgundy red hardtop variations). The second one, was the “sport” version with the reference C-33, which is the same we are presenting here today. This model was available in white, green, light brown and burgundy red. 
As you can imagine, models from 1967 and 1968 were very scarce already in 1992, and they were very difficult to find, specially, this “sport” version with that extreme fragile windshield. This made the model an instant success, and it was sold very well even though the price was very high.
The vintage version, it was made in bright red, although due to a manufacturing mistake, some units came out in orange. Mostly were destroyed, but some others were mounted and sold.
As it happened with the Seat 600, each car is marked in the chassis with a number, since they are a limited edition of 10.000. The box included, the instructions, a certificate with the serial number, and a sheet of stickers. Instructions and set of stickers are not shown, because they are identical to the one showed in the previous entry.
  • Name: MERCEDES 250 SL SPORT VINTAGE (Ref. 8353)
  • Scale: 1:32
  • Year: 1992
  • Company: Scalextric Exin (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 14 cm

Tuesday, January 17, 2012



Scalextric was the most profitable line for Exin; even during the hardest times, Scalextric kept selling while other toy lines had to be shortened or cancelled. Even in its last years (the company would disappear in 1992), Exin always cared about its slot cars line. A proof of that, is that in 1991 Exin decided to start a new limited series of Scalextric cars named Vintage; a reproduction of the most important and popular models, made with the original casts from the 60s and 70s. 

This was the first model, a Seat 600: the most emblematic car in the history of Scalextric Spain. It was also the first model (1966) that the Spanish branch of Scalextric designed and manufactured itself and wasn’t available in the United Kingdom (or anywhere else).

Even though the prices of these cars were very high (around 5000 pesetas -30 Euros- in 1991), the series was a great success. It was so successful, that even the following year (in which Exin definitely closed), a new model was released, and the company who bought the Scalextric license from Exin, Tyco, continued the line in 1994.

The original Seat 600 were already at that time very difficult to find (nowadays are even rarer and much more expensive), so this was a great chance for Scalextric fans to find one of them. The decoration was very similar to the original one, with the chequered flag line and the round number stickers. The color (bright red) was also very attractive. The high price could be observed at the time as an investment… and it was! This model is very rare to find (completed, boxed and with certificate) at reasonable prices.

Each car was packed in a box made of cardboard with a plastic window on the front. The only difference to the normal line is that the box was black instead of red. Apart from the slot car, there were instructions included plus a certificate with the serial number of the car, which was marked in the chassis. The first vintage boxes included a sheet of stickers, for the brave who wanted to decorate their models in another way.

Also interesting is that the Vintage models made by Exin: this one, and the red Mercedes 250SL can only be found in Scalextric box, not in the SCX box. From 1994 on (Tyco and Tecnitoys models), there are two types of boxes, one intended for the national market, the other one for export. In case there are two types of boxes, and therefore two types of certificates, it is unclear if the number of produced units refer to the complete series, or just the Scalextric/SCX series.

  • Name: SEAT TC-600 VINTAGE (Ref. 8333)
  • Scale: 1:32
  • Year: 1991
  • Company: Scalextric Exin (Spain)
  • Size: approx. 10 cm
As an annex, I include here a list of all the vintage models made by Scalextric Spain until 2011:
  • 1994- Jaguar E-Type (Green) 8.000 units
  • 1995- Seat TC 850 (White) 8.000 units
  • 1996- Ford GT 40 (Light blue) 4.000 units
  • 1997- Chaparral (White) a 4.000 units
  • 1998- Porsche 917 (Orange) 4.000 units
  • 1999- Ferrari GT 330 (Red) 3000 units
  • 2000- Tyrrel P34 (Blue and White) 2500 Units
  • 2001- Mini Cooper (Red) 7777 units
  • 2002- Sigma (Silver) 5555 units
  • 2003- Chevrolet Corvette Dragster (Blue) 7000 units
  • 2004- Ford Mustang Dragster (Dark Red) 8000 units
  • 2005- Tyrrell Ford (Blue) 8000 units
  • 2006- Mc Laren M9A (Orange) 8000 units
  • 2007- BRM P261 (Dark Green) 6000 units
  • 2009- Honda F1 (White) 2000 units
  • 2010- Seat 600 (Yellow) 1500 units
  • 2011- Renault Alpine 2000 “Banco Occidental” (Orange) 1500 units
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